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Bio & Life Sciences

Medal of Science Recipient Lee Hood Says “Systems Medicine” Will Reduce Costs

Lee Hood, president of the Institute for Systems Biology, was awarded the National Medal of Science today.

Leroy Hood, who was awarded the National Medal of Science today by President Obama, shared a prediction earlier this week that the President surely wishes would come true during his final term: the convergence of genomics, advanced diagnostics, digital technologies, and quantified self tools will send healthcare costs plummeting. Hood gives us a decade to get there.

Hood is the 74-year-old founder and president of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, and is known as a father of the genomics field, having invented automated DNA sequencing. In a talk on Monday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., during the Personalized Medicine World Conference he described his vision for better, cheaper healthcare enabled by preventive “systems medicine.” 

At the New York Genome Center blog, Kat McGowan reported on Hood’s talk and his explanation for why the term “personalized” doesn’t capture the enormity of the change coming in medicine:

“Instead, he said, we should be talking about “P-4 medicine”—individualized diagnostics and interventions combined with systems medicine approaches, patient-activated social networks, and the advent of Big Data. Together, these four trends will finally deliver the new era we’ve been waiting for, one with better care and moderated medical costs. … These changes will force companies in every part of the healthcare sector to revise their business plans within the next 10 years, predicted Hood. Earlier diagnosis, patient stratification, optimizing wellness, and the plummeting cost of digital technology will ultimately reduce costs in the healthcare system.”

Hood has been advancing that vision for two years at P4Mi, another institute he founded alongside the Institute for Systems Biology. Short for Predictive, Preventive, Personalized, and Participatory Medicine Institute, P4Mi aims to “deploy cutting-edge clinical measurement techniques developed by ISB to generate the P4 cloud of personalized health data using genomic, proteomic, and cellular analyses.” According to the institute, those kinds of data, in enormous volumes, will revolutionize healthcare and reduce costs.

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